Retiring in April, Chief Justice says will leave succession plan to JAC

Ida Lim
Tan Sri Richard Malanjum signs his letter of appointment at Istana Negara, Kuala Lumpur July 11, 2018. — Bernama pic

PUTRAJAYA, Jan 11 — Chief Justice Tan Sri Richard Malanjum said he will leave the matter of replacement for his position when he retires in April to the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC).

Malanjum said the matter of succession plan for him and several other Federal Court judges due to retire this year will have “to be discussed”.

“I leave it to the JAC,” he told reporters when met here after officiating the three-day 53rd Judges' Conference.

Malanjum, who is the first judge from east Malaysia to be appointed chief justice, will hit the constitutional age limit for judges of 66 years and six months in early April.

Malanjum, who is also chairman of the nine-member JAC, said the matter of the succession plan is classified under the Official Secrets Act.

When asked if the JAC would consider appointing lawyers directly to be a Federal Court judge, he said: “We have not thought about it.”

The JAC, which was established on February 2, 2009, selects suitably qualified persons for appointment as judges of the Federal Court, Court of Appeal, High Court for the prime minister’s consideration.

After the JAC decides on the candidate, it will then submit a report to the prime minister on its recommendation and also state the reasons for its selection, as well as provide any other additional information.

After receiving the report, the prime minister can request the commission to recommend additional names for him to consider.

And after accepting any of the recommended candidates, the prime minister then advises the Yang di-Pertuan Agong for their appointments to the positions.

Earlier today, Malaysian Bar president George Varughese said there should be continued reform for the Malaysian judiciary to be recognised as world-class, suggesting that there be a better balance in courts by having judges with diverse expertise.

“In this regard, the Malaysian Bar reiterates its call for more direct appointments from the Bar to the Bench as practiced in other jurisdictions,” he said in his speech at the opening of the legal year 2019, when urging for more lawyers to be made judges.

He also said the Malaysian Bar is of the view that important stakeholders should be included in the JAC, and that the JAC should be upgraded to be a institution formed under the Federal Constitution.

Speaking after Varughese at the opening of the legal year 2019, Malanjum noted the difficulties in finding the right candidates among lawyers to be in the judiciary, with some turning down the idea due to family commitments such as caring for their young children or funding their children's education.

“So where do we get them? We understand the call that there should be more from the Bar, but please help us to find them and let us know and we will interview them.

“Don't give us the failures in practice, that would not be good. We want the top flyers if possible,” he told the Malaysian Bar.

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